To appreciate and use correctly a valuable maxim, requires a genius, a vital appropriating exercise of mind closely allied to that which first created it.
There is no less invention in aptly applying a thought found in a book, than in being the first author of the thought.
He presents me with what is always an acceptable gift who brings me news of a great thought before unknown. He enriches me without impoverishing himself.
A good thought is a great boon for which God is first to be thanked; next, he who is the first to utter it; and then in a lesser but still a considerable degree, the friend who is the first to quote it to us.
Luminous quotations atone, by their interest, for the dullness of an inferior book, and add to the value of a superior work by the variety which they lend to its style and treatment.
To quote copiously and well requires taste, judgment and erudition, a feeling for the beautiful, an appreciation of the noble, and a sense of the profound.
A couplet of verse, a period of prose, may cling to the rock of ages as a shell that survives a deluge.
With just enough of learning to misquote.
It is the beauty and independent worth of the citations, far more than their appropriateness, which have made Johnson's Dictionary popular even as a reading-book.
Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country? Great books are not in everybody's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither time nor means to get more. Let every bookworm, when in any fragrant, scarce old tome he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it.
I have somewhere seen it observed that we should make the same use of a book that the bee does of a flower; she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it.
When we would prepare the mind by a forcible appeal, an opening quotation is a symphony preluding on the chords those tones we are about to harmonize.
The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those conceive who can see nothing more in a quotation than an extract.
The wisdom of the wise and the experience of ages may be preserved by quotation.
I pluck up the goodlisome herbs of sentences by pruning, eat them by reading, digest them by musing, and lay them up at length in the high seat of memory by gathering them together; that so, having tasted their sweetness, I may the less perceive the bitterness of life.
Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it.
A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his invention when his memory serves him with a word as good.—What he quotes he fills with his own voice and humor, and the whole cyclopedia of his table-talk is presently believed to be his own.
The adventitious beauty of poetry may be felt in the greater delight with a verse given in happy quotation than in the poem.
By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we quote,—We quote not only books and proverbs, but arts, sciences, religions, customs, and laws; nay, we quote temples and houses, tables and chairs by imitation.
In literature, quotation is good only when the writer whom I follow goes my way, and, being better mounted than I, gives me a cast, as we say; but if I like the gay equipage so well as to go out of my road, I had better have gone afoot.
Our best thoughts come from others.
Whatever we may say against collections, which present authors in a disjointed form, they nevertheless bring about many excellent results. We are not always so composed, so full of wisdom, that we are able to take in at once the whole scope of a work according to its merits. Do we not mark in a book passages which seem to have a direct reference to ourselves? Young people especially, who have failed in acquiring a complete cultivation of mind, are roused in a praiseworthy way by brilliant passages.
A verse may find him who a sermon flies.
Quotation, sir, is a good thing; there is a community of mind in it: classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
Particles of science are often very widely scattered, and writers of extensive comprehension have incidental remarks upon topics remote from the principal subject, which are often more valuable than former treatises, and which are not known because not promised in the title. He that collects these is very laudably employed, as he facilitates the progress of others, and by making that easy of attainment which is already written, may give some adventurous mind leisure for new thoughts and original designs.
He that recalls the attention of mankind to any part of learning which time has left behind it, may be truly said to advance the literature of his own age.
Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
Quotation is the highest compliment you can pay to an author.
The obscurest sayings of the truly great are often these which contain the germ of the profoundest and most useful truths.
I have only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that ties them together.
I quote others only the better to express myself.
Selected thoughts depend for their flavor upon the terseness of their expression, for thoughts are grains of sugar or salt, that must be melted in a drop of water.
In quoting of books, quote such authors as are usually read; others you may read for your own satisfaction, but do not name them.
A thing is never too often repeated which is never sufficiently learned.
Have at you with a proverb.
Full of wise saws and modern instances.
The proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly exploded in the air.
Whoever reads only to transcribe or quote shining remarks without entering into the genius and spirit of the author, will be apt to be misled out of a regular way of thinking, and the product of all this will be found to be a manifest incoherent piece of patchwork.
Abstracts, abridgments, summaries, etc., have the same use as burning glasses, to collect the diffused rays of wit and learning in authors, and make them point with warmth and quickness upon the reader's imagination.
Fine words!—I wonder where you stole them.
If these little sparks of holy fire thus heaped up together do not give life to your prepared and already enkindled spirit, yet they will sometimes help to entertain a thought, to actuate a passion, to employ and hallow a fancy.
To select well among old things is almost equal to inventing new ones.
We ought never to be afraid to repeat an ancient truth, when we feel that we can make it more striking by a neater turn, or bring it alongside of another truth, which may make it clearer, and thereby accumulate evidence. It belongs to the inventive faculty to see clearly the relative state of things, and to be able to place them in connection; but the discoveries of ages gone by belong less to their first authors than to those who make them practically useful to the world.
The multiplicity of facts and writings is become so great that everything must soon be reduced to extracts.
I am but a gatherer and disposer of other men's stuff.
The wise men of old have sent most of their morality down the stream of time in the light skiff of apothegm or epigram.